The Falcons, after last week’s victory over the Ravens, may very well be the most feared club in the league at this moment. Recent first-round QBs Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford look to further their respective teams towards the playoffs and both need a win on Sunday. The high flying (7-2) Atlanta Falcons will look to stay atop the NFC South with a win on Sunday against the resurgent (4-5) St. Louis Rams, kickoff slated for 4:05 PM EST. The Falcons are trying to play as well on road as at home, but the Rams are proving hard to beat at home in the Edward Jones Dome.
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With Matt Ryan feeling more comfortable guiding the no-huddle offense, the Atlanta Falcons have fared well in close games. Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams are still seeking similar results. The Falcons try to win their fourth in a row Sunday and break a five-game road skid to the Rams, who will go for their first five-game single-season home winning streak since 2003. Ryan, the 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is calling between 30-32 plays out of the no-huddle this year, up from the 10-12 he called two seasons ago. His comfort in those formations was evident in the team’s last game, a 26-21 victory over Baltimore on Nov. 11. Running the no-huddle, Ryan helped Atlanta build a 10-point halftime lead, and with the Falcons down by one with 65 seconds left, he capped a winning drive with a 33-yard TD pass to Roddy White with 20 seconds remaining. Atlanta is in first place in the NFC South 1 game up on the defending champion Saints and the Falcons come into this game hot, as they have won 3 in a row. Atlanta does not have that tough of a remaining schedule, but they still have to face division foes Tampa Bay and New Orleans and those games may make or break their season.Last week in the win over the Ravens Atlanta QB Matt Ryan was stellar throwing a career high 50 passes for 316 yards with 3 TD. He and the Falcons are using the no-huddle offense a lot these days and the Rams have to get used to that. The Rams’ pass defense has been mediocre this season ranking 18th in the league. The Atlanta offensive line has to step it up in this game against a Rams’ pass rush that has the 2nd most sacks in the league (28). While the Falcons have the 8th ranked rushing offense RB Michael Turner only had 39 rushing yards against Baltimore last week. Things do not get any easier for him, as the Rams have the league’s 6th ranked rushing defense and in their last 6 games have given up an average of fewer than 80 rushing yards per game. Michael Turner had a season-low 39 yards rushing last week against the Ravens. It was by design. The Ravens were suspect in the secondary and Atlanta went to the pass.
Sam Bradford leads the Rams and their 24th ranked passing offense and last week in the OT loss to the 49ers he passed for 251 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. When he does not get picked off the Rams do well, but in the games that they have lost he has been plagued by INT’s. While the Falcons are tied for 2nd for the most INT’s (14) their pass defense is their major weakness only ranking 23rd in the league. However, last week the secondary was pretty good holding the Ravens to only 204 yards through the air. After 3 straight 100+ yard games RB Steven Jackson has not rushed for triple digits in his last 2 games. He did have 81 yards with a 4.1 yard per carry average in the loss to San Francisco, but he will be facing a Falcons’ rushing defense that ranks 7th in the league, but did give up 116 rushing yards to Baltimore last week. While Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola have stepped up with the Rams’ receiving corps decimated by injuries, Jackson remains the most consistent offensive weapon for a St. Louis team that’s tied for 30th with 17.8 points a contest. If Atlanta can contain Jackson they should be in good shape, as Bradford needs help on offense and cannot do it all himself. St. Louis has made significant strides on defense this season, allowing 47 fewer yards per game than last year. The Rams’ rush defense, sixth in the league with 97.8 yards a game, has been particularly strong in the past six contests, allowing 79.8. That could force the Falcons – ranked eighth with 128.0 rushing yards per game – to rely less on Michael Turner, who was held to a season-low 39 yards against the Ravens, and more on their passing attack.
Falcons vs Rams Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons -3
@ St. Louis Rams +3
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Browns vs Jaguars Predictions for Week 11:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – This line is giving a lot of credit to the early season success of the St. Louis Rams. No question the Rams are no longer a push over or early season check on most teams slate of games, but they have not played the quality of ball to hold the Falcons to a field goal win. Yes, the Rams are strong at home and Sam Bradford turns into a different cat when he is in the cozy confines of the Edward Jones Dome, but the fact of the matter is the St. Louis Rams have not played the quality of opponent that the Falcons present. The Falcons lead the very highly contested NFC South and are poised to reach the Superbowl this year on the arms of QB Matt Ryan. Atlanta is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games and are 4-2 SU in its last 6 games on the road. Meanwhile, we see that the Rams are 10-22 ATS the following week after a loss to a divisional rival over the last 5 seasons. I do not see this game as a blowout, but the Falcons are much more talented then the Rams and should be garnering a spread of more then a field goal. Also, Atlanta and St. Louis play in domed stadiums. The Falcons are 6-0 this season indoors (5-0 in the Georgia Dome and 1-0 in the Superdome). Consider the dirty birds to handle the Rams with ease and stay atop the NFC ranks.
Game Total Prediction – It should come to no surprise that the Atlanta Falcons can produce points and produce points at will. The bolster one of the young, blossoming pivots of the game who is complimented by one of the most decorated tight ends this game has ever seen in Tony Gonzalez and a stud at the wideout position in Roddy White. The Falcons have been playing OVER ball for the last 4 weeks and show no signs of letting up. These cross divisional teams know a thing or two about lighting up a scoreboard when they meet, the total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta’s last 5 games when playing St. Louis. We find that since 1997 the total has never found the UNDER when these two teams hook up in Missouri. The St. Louis Rams are a resurgent bunch that is vying for an unprecedented playoff spot, so they will be gunning as well come Sunday. RB Steven Jackson is an all-world talent and he should find his spots amongst a suspect run defense. We will side with the OVER in this playoff-implicating match up. Cheers!